We started out under another beautiful blue sky. The wind had died some. We hiked about 3 miles before reching the Rich Mountain Lookout Tower. My dad would have loved that. I'm sure it was named after an ancestor of ours. The wind started picking up again and getting very cold, colder as we went on. After admiring the views from the tower, and taking pics, we picked up the pace to try and stay warm as we went. We had met a new hiker at camp the evening before, Glogg, from New York City, and we kept coming upon him taking breaks. His IT band was giving him fits, and he had just taken a lot of days off in Hot Springs, trying to rest it so he could continue. We talked him into not getting off of the trail just yet, but instead, slowing down some, so he decided to hike slower and stay behind me.
I do not have a reputation for being speedy, but I do seem to always get to where I'm going by supper time! :) Glogg followed us all day and eventually got through the day. Everyone from the night before seemed to be targeting Little Laurel Shelter for the night, and we knew if we ended up there, those guys would once again build a BIG campfire, which sounded pretty attractive in this weather.
Along the way, we got passed by a former thru-hiker, Forager, who was hiking with his two dogs, Fidel Castro and Curtis. Fidel was a young beagle, who stayed on his heels, but Curtis, for some reason, lagged behind and started following us, and barking and growling. No matter how many times Forager called him, Curtis would just stay behind us barking. All of sudden, Curtis' tone changed, and I swear, that dog started talking to us. Not in people words, but in a calm, doggy language. Weirdest thing. No more barking, but little soft yips that kind of came from his throat. Glogg got the idea that he was wanting to pass us, but was afraid of all of our trekking poles, and so he asked us to all stop and step to the side. Sure enough, as soon as we did that, Curtis hightailed it up the trail and caught up to Fidel and Forager. We laughed pretty hard. Apparently, he was trying to communicate with us, but we just were not getting the message!
When we got to the shelter, we met two new hikers, a young couple, Secrets (him) and Shenanigans (her). He go this name because he has a lot of Secrets. Hmmm. She got hers, because she was at an all you can eat buffet, and craving cheesecake, and she heard there was cheesecake on the dessert buffet, but when she got up there, it was all sugar-free, diabetic cheesecake, and she shouted, "What kind of shenanigans is this?????"
They had a fire that night, but it was so windy and cold, that we didn't stick around to enjoy it, but instead got into the tent and sleeping bags early. Brrrr! Glogg ended up thanking us for encouraging him not to quit the trail today. Snagglefoot spoke up, and said, 'That's what it's all about. That's what gets us up the trail."
(Camped atg Little Laurel Shelter, mile 293.5)